Background: This study intends to evaluate the delays in the diagnostic pathways for primary lung cancer in Southern Norway, and to compare results with recommendations from the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and the Swedish Lung Cancer Group (SLCG).
Design: A questionnaire-based prospective study of all patients diagnosed with primary lung cancer in Southern Norway from June 14, 2002 to June 13, 2005.
Results: Half of the 479 patients were referred to a specialist in pulmonology within 3 weeks (median) of first seeing their doctor concerning symptoms of malignant pulmonary disease. 71% of patients were seen by pulmonologist within 1 week of received referral, and not 100% as proposed by the BTS. 52% of the patients were diagnosed and informed of their disease within 2 weeks (BTS recommend 100%) of having received the referral letter, and 68% within 3 weeks (SLCG recommend 80%). 62% started treatment within 1 month of first contact with pulmonologist (SLCG 80%).
Conclusion: The delays in diagnosing lung cancer in the Agder region were within BTS and Swedish recommendations in 52-71% of cases. Although our results show good standings compared to other studies, the potential improvements for both the referring GP and the specialist investigators are discussed.